Register for FAC’s 2019 Legal Seminar: Defending the Subpoenaed Journalist

Legal Work

Subpoena Defense

Calling California Lawyers: Register for FAC's 2019 Subpoena Defense Training in San Francisco And Los Angeles

Subpoena Defense Initiative

Join the First Amendment Coalition, the Press Freedom Defense Fund of First Look Media, and First Amendment lawyers Thomas Burke and Duffy Carolan for a training session on how to defend members of the press when the government comes looking for their confidential sources or unpublished materials.

Special guest: San Francisco journalist Bryan Carmody, who was the subject of an unlawful and now-infamous raid by San Francisco police. Mr. Carmody turned to FAC’s Subpoena Defense Initiative to find qualified legal counsel to defend his rights. Mr. Burke represented Mr. Carmody in quashing multiple search warrants executed by SFPD, while Ms. Carolan, counsel to FAC and a media coalition, successfully moved to unseal the affidavits used to obtain the warrants.



10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Admission: Free
Lunch Included &
CLE Pending


SAN FRANCISCO: Davis Wright Tremaine, 505 Montgomery Street, Suite 800, San Francisco

LOS ANGELES: Attend via live stream video, Davis Wright Tremaine, 865 S. Figueroa Street, Ste. 2400, Los Angeles



This third-annual training session, part of FAC’s Subpoena Defense Initiative, is designed for lawyers at all levels interested in representing journalists who face subpoenas for their confidential sources and unpublished materials, a fundamental threat to press freedoms. Training will cover: the typical subpoenas that journalists receive in state and federal court proceedings in California; the state’s shield law and case law; strategies for successfully representing journalists who are subpoenaed to produce and/or testify about unpublished information; and what lawyers need to do when that process is abandoned and police show up at a reporter’s door with a sledgehammer, as happened to freelancer Bryan Carmody on May 10. Hear from Thomas Burke, the lawyer who successfully fought for Carmody’s rights, winning motions to quash multiple search warrants issued for Carmody’s home, office and phones, and Duffy Carolan, who brought transparency to the ordeal by successfully arguing for records to be unsealed.

The goal of this training session is two-fold:

  • To train interested attorneys with detailed, specific knowledge of the procedural and substantive challenges of defending journalists who are subpoenaed in both the criminal and civil contexts.
  • To build a roster of qualified attorneys throughout California who FAC can call on to defend subpoenaed journalists if and when the need arises.

Both goals are in furtherance of FAC’s Subpoena Defense Initiative, the fundamental purpose of which is to connect qualified counsel with journalists who have been served with subpoenas but are unrepresented and unable to afford counsel.

FAC’s Subpoena Defense Initiative

With the explosion in small and nonprofit media outlets, as well as a steep rise in the number of freelance journalists, there is a significant and growing need for qualified counsel to defend subpoenas served on journalists who lack counsel or the means to hire counsel. Many subpoenas can be handled swiftly, with a phone call or an email.  Others require more extended negotiations, and some may require a motion to quash and a related court appearance. Thus, they present an ideal opportunity for lawyers to engage in work for the public good on a time- and subject-matter-limited basis. They may also present good opportunities for junior lawyers to get hands-on, courtroom experience.

Press Freedom Defense Fund

The fund is a project of First Look Media Works, Inc., publisher of The Intercept. It provides essential legal support for journalists, news organizations and whistleblowers who are targeted by powerful figures because they have tried to being light information that is in the public interest and necessary for a functioning democracy. It was a principle supporter of Bryan Carmody and provides a grant to FAC.


Thomas Burke
Thomas Burke, Davis Wright Tremaine, San Francisco

Thomas Burke, a partner in the San Francisco office of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, regularly defends journalists who are subpoenaed in civil and criminal suits in state and federal court. He has likely encountered every kind of journalist subpoena issue possible in his nearly 30 years of practice in California’s state and federal courts. Mr. Burke is Chair of DWT’s Pro Bono & Social Impact Committee. He defends speech across all mediums – representing Internet companies, networks, studios, book, magazine and newspaper publishers, authors, journalists, photographers, documentary filmmakers, and environmental groups. He regularly litigates high-profile public records lawsuits in state and federal court. He is also a Continuing Lecturer on Media Law at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has taught since 2002. He is the author of “Anti-SLAPP Litigation” (The Rutter Group 2013-present) and a Contributing Editor to Weil & Brown, “Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial” (The Rutter Group 2014-present) (Anti-SLAPP Motions).

Duffy Carolan, Jassy/Vick/Carolan
Duffy Carolan, Jassy Vick Carolan, San Francisco

Duffy Carolan, a partner in the San Francisco office of Jassy Vick Carolan LLP, represents news, online and entertainment content providers in a variety of matters, including defamation, invasion of privacy, right of publicity, prior restraint, copyright, trademark, and Internet law issues at both the trial and appellate levels in state and federal courts. She is newsroom counsel to over 25 California newspapers, providing 24/7 advice to reporters and editors on deadline. Ms. Carolan has regularly defended journalists in subpoena matters, including high-profile murder cases involving jailhouse interviews, and has protected their unpublished materials in multiple civil cases in both state and federal court. She has extensive experience representing news organizations seeking to obtain access to public records and public meetings under the California Public Records Act, Freedom of Information Act, and Ralph M. Brown Act. As a former journalist, she regularly conducts newsroom training sessions on a variety of timely topics. She was honored by the Northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as “Counsel of the Year” for 2011, and was selected by her peers through The Best Lawyers in America® as San Francisco’s “Lawyer of the Year” in Litigation-First Amendment for 2013. 

David Bralow
David Bralow

David Bralow, Legal Director of the Press Freedom Defense Fund, brings a wealth of experience in media law including First Amendment expertise, national security issues, FOIA prosecutions and appeals, defamation, and privacy. Prior to joining First Look Media, Bralow was of counsel in the Media, Communication and Entertainment Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP. He also served as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Digital First Media, a multi-platform media company with the second largest newspaper circulation in the United States; and as Assistant General Counsel for 13 years at the Tribune Company, where he provided legal advice to their newspapers, websites and television stations.